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Vegetarianism and Men

by Lori Sciame October 12th, 2018 | Men's Health
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carrotsWorking on a college campus exposes me to a lot of trends, including trends in diets.  Currently, many young men on my campus claim to be vegetarians.  This means that they eat a diet that consists mainly of vegetables.  There are a few that take an even stricter stance and strive to be vegan, a person who does not eat any food that comes from an animal, such as eggs, cheese, and milk. Although these diets have been around for years, they have increased in popularity. As outlined in Statistic Brain, 7.3 million Americans classify themselves as vegetarians.

Recent Study on Men and Vegetarianism in JAMA

Those young men on my campus, as well as men across the country, have reason to celebrate. In a study recently released by JAMA Internal Medicine, it was shown that men who follow a vegetarian diet live longer.  Researchers followed 70,000 participants over six years, and in that time they found that men who identify as vegetarian have a 12% less chance of dying from all causes when compared to meat eaters.

In addition, the study found that vegetarian diets have been associated with a reduction in chronic diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease (Bloomberg).

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Although vegetarian diets boost to a man’s overall health, those that follow the diet need to be aware of potential problems.  In some cases, men have developed a vitamin B12 deficiency.  Vitamin B12 helps with the manufacture of red blood cells, so a deficiency may lead to anemia. In addition, this vitamin helps keep the brain and the heart healthy.

To avoid this problem, the solution comes in the form of cereal.  A Men’s Health News article from this past summer recommends the following: “Eat a bowl of 100 percent B12-boosted cereal, like Total or Multigrain Cheerios, every morning and you should be able to hit the daily quota of 2.4 micrograms.”  The author, Madeline Haller, states that if cereal is not the answer, one may wish to take a multivitamin that contains B12.

The Minuses

Not all experts agree that men should follow a vegetarian diet.  There is a danger of not consuming all the nutrients a body needs to thrive.  Like vitamin B12, vegetarians may not consume the right amounts of quality proteins either.  The US Government provides dietary guidelines that a man may wish to review for more information on daily recommendations.  Visit Choose My Plate on the Internet to learn more.

Tips for Vegetarians (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics)

  • Eat five or six small meals per day that not only include protein, but fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, vegetable oils, and plenty of water.
  • At least half your calories each day should come from carbohydrates, which fuel your muscles.
  • Fats are necessary for building muscle and supply energy to muscles during workouts. Good sources of fat include olive oil, almonds, walnuts, avocados, and canola oil.
  • Find a registered dietitian who can work with you to create a personalized vegetarian eating plan that meets your individual needs.

(Photo courtesy of Sanja Gjenero)

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.